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Is it Time for a Colonoscopy?

“Is it time for a colonoscopy?”

By, Sara Laite, MPH, RD, LRD
Extension Agent

Colon cancer is most definitely a tough subject for me. Just over seven years ago, my, otherwise healthy dad started feeling very ill, had no appetite and lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. After a few visits to the doctor, it was found that he had stage 4 colon cancer, which had already metastasized to the liver.

 

It was truly devastating news. He had recently retired, walked daily, and had many plans ahead of him. Within two weeks, my dad was gone, leaving behind so many friends and family who loved him dearly. If only my dad would have had a recent colonoscopy.

 

According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths for men and women in the US. One in 24 women and one in 22 men will develop colon cancer in their lifetime.

 

Colon cancer is caused by nonstop and unnecessary cell growth in the colon (large intestine). This growth can result in cancerous tumors. Early detection is so important for survival. A colonoscopy is a procedure where a doctor examines the colon with a camera, looking for polyps and cancer cells. A blood stool test is an at-home test that checks for hidden blood in the stool which can be an early sign of colon cancer.

 

Should you get a colonoscopy? If you answer yes to any of these, you may be at risk; talk to your health-care provider about your options.

  • I have irritable bowel disease.
  • I have a family history of colon or prostate cancer.
  • Sometimes I notice blood in my stool.
  • I often have stomach pain/discomfort.
  • My bowel movements have changed and now I am often constipated.
  • My stool is suddenly loose and watery.
  • I am 45 years old or older.

 

How can you lower your risk? Try reducing your intake of foods that are high in saturated fats such as processed meats (hotdogs, beef jerky, ham) and high-fat dairy (butter, whole milk). Eat more foods that are high in fiber.

 

Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get enough fiber. Women should aim for 25 grams while men need around 30-38 grams depending on age. Beans and legumes are great sources of fiber, along with fruit (especially berries), vegetables, and whole grain foods. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep everything moving in the digestive tract!

 

My family loves granola, especially when making fruit and yogurt parfaits. This recipe for slow cooker granola is very simple, tasty and a great way to add a little more fiber into your diet.

Slow Cooker Honey Granola

4 c. old-fashioned oats, uncooked

6 Tbsp. honey

½ c. flax seeds

1 c. bran cereal

1 c. raisins

¼ c. canola oil

Pour all ingredients into a 6-quart slow cooker and mix well. Put the cover on a little bit askew and cook on low for about three hours, stirring occasionally. Let cool on parchment paper and store in an airtight container for one to two weeks.

Makes 24 servings. Each ¼ cup serving has 130 calories, 4g fat, 3g protein, 23g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, and 10mg sodium.

 

For more information, contact the Ramsey County Extension Office at 701-662-7027. Website: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ramseycountyextension. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NDSUExtRamsey/.

 

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist. Healthwise for Women and Healthwise for Guys: Colon Cancer, NDSU Extension.

 

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